Program: Jarga Maraka
Topic: Lack of Education, main cause for Chaos and Tension
Guest#1: Shehan Shah (Deputy Director FATA Education Directorate)
Guest#2: Nasir Dawar (Senior Journalist from Waziristan)
Field Story No 1: Literacy Rate in FATA
(Reporter Jamshed Mehsud)
Field Story No 2: Terrorism forced many children to be involved in child labor
(Reporter Kamran Afridi)
Anchor Person: Shahabuddin
Summary: âHealth and education sectors are pathetic in Fata tribal regions. There is one single hospital bed for every 2179 persons in FATA and only a single doctor for every 7670 individuals while in settle areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a single doctor is meant to serve 1226 people. Similarly education has also not been focused in the region of FATA. There are about 20335 teachers out of which 13889 are male and 6446 are female instructors. Khyber Agency has highest literacy rate with 34% while North Waziristan has least education rate of 15.88%. Trouble, conflict, poverty, economic instability and teacherâs absence in schools, are major hurdles in the way of promoting education in FATAâ.
Shahabuddin: Mr. Nasir Dawar, trouble and riot has put negative impacts on everyday activities of tribal people particularly education is in adverse state in tribal regions. Without promotion of education, situation cannot be stable. What is outlook regarding education system in FATA?
Nasir Dawar: The significance of education cannot be underestimated in promotion of peace and stability. If we see the ground realities, education is almost nothing to nil FATA. Education or health has not been major concern for the people rather they are worry for protection of their lives. Many people along with their families have shifted to Peshawar and other settle areas to have better future for their children. Only five percent people of FATA can afford to migrate to any safer place otherwise ninety or ninety five percent poor are living there in compulsion. If we have a glimpse on educational background in FATA, it was not upto the mark even before militancy entered to tribal regions. Educational institutions were setup in those areas, where it was not required and educationists and intellectuals had opposed it time and again. These were established without feasibility reports in those areas where Maliks and influential live to reward them for their so-called services. These educational institutions have been converted into guest houses, Hujra or farm houses. The same case is with health centers. Political agent enjoys absolute power and his orders and verdicts cannot be challenged.
Saeed Afridi caller 1: I belong to Hayatabad, many educational institutions are still shut in federally administered tribal areas destroying the precious time of children. Their power to retain lost studies has badly affected. Nonlocal teachers are recruited there, who cannot reach schools in time particularly female teachers, who even engage children in extra activities.
Shahabuddin: Mr. Shahan Shah, being a representative of government, what would you say about public concern regarding poor state of education in FATA?
Shehan Shah: I also belong to tribal belt and hopeful for positive change in FATA. Site selection for establishment of a school decides during new annual development program. We have gone a step further and before the establishment of schools, education department will choose three feasible sites. Onwards no institution will be made on the will of Malik or any other influential person. World Literacy Day was celebrated with great show and pump on 8th September across the FATA including North Waziristan with renewed commitment and promise to educate every child of all agencies. On the day, mega ceremonies were held even in Waziristan to aware the masses for significance of education. The administration is rehabilitating damaged school infrastructure.
Nasir Dawar: It merits a mention here that two radios were launched by Fata Secretariat in Miran Shah and Razmak for the objective of sensitizing masses for education, but our bed luck these were closed down, due to lack of funds. It cost huge loss in terms of awareness.
Nayaz Ali caller 2: I am from Tehsil Prang Ghar, Mohmand Agency, I am first year student and due to unavailability of proper college in the agency, studying in a private college of Peshawar. Despite requesting Governor KP and MNA in written form for increasing quota for the tribal students in all colleges and universities of the country, no steps are taken. It is the era of science and technology, without a favorable environment and facilities, one cannot access to quality education. Writers and intellectuals are also in less number in Fata to underline the basic problems of inhabitants thus we are leading a backward life. I suggest that government should open vocational and training centers to ensure income generation opportunities to tribal people.
âReportâ: Education is imperative for the development and progress of a nation and developed countries of the world are a manifest proof before us. Pakistan is among those countries, where education is given priority and recent survey reveals that countryâs literacy rate has reached to 69 percent however literacy rate in tribal regions are on much lower side. In Literacy ratio in Khyber Agency is 34%, in Bajaur over 13%, in Kurram 26%, in Mohmand 30%, Orakzai 3% and only 17% in South and North Waziristan. Overall literacy rate in FATA is 17%. In South Waziristan, due to ongoing military operations, children are deprived of education for last five years.
Social worker: âEducation must be promoted at grassroots level and first of all elders must be convinced for childrenâs education. During forced migration, they have realized the significance of education by having interaction with the people of settled areas. Lot of funds are approved for development of Waziristan, but these do not disburse. Tribal people affected from all sides in ongoing war on terror, but they are not compensated for thatâ.
Reporter: In over 600 schools and colleges of South Waziristan, over 3000 teachers are performing duties. An inhabitant from Waziristan was of the view that education has not been focused in the agency for so long. Teachers are involved in side businesses.
Inhabitant: âThe state of education was already adverse in Waziristan putting the future of thousands of children at stake. There are teachers taking salaries, but they donât attend classes and what worse is that some of them are in abroad for business purposes. Military operations during 2009 brought untold sufferings and countless miseries for the dwellersâ.
Reporter: About 80% educational institutions are closed down, due to ongoing situation in Waziristan and 70 schools destroyed. The repatriated families of the agency say that children are compelled to study under open sky.
Rehabilitee: âLike our homes, four schools were completely pounded by miscreants in our village forcing children to get education under open sky. In absence of a conducive environment, education is unattainable. Few nongovernmental organizations in cooperation with the government, has started rehabilitation of damaged schools in Chakmalai, Kotkai, Sara Rogha however still girlâs schools are in devastated conditionâ.
Rehabilitee: âThere is dire need of constituting a committee at every village level to speed up rehabilitation work on these schools. Like government spend huge amount on security in Waziristan, funds should be allocated for South Waziristanâs people particularly of Mehsud tribe. These funds should be spent through local committees comprising over sincere personsâ.
Reporter: SW agency education department official Sharabat khan says, high schools are made functional in those areas where people have just returned.
Agency education officer: âWe are trying to open further education institutes. Army as well as foreign donors is cooperating with us in this regard. We have not yet received final report regarding rehabilitation of damaged schools and will soon make it publicâ. Jamshed Mehsud CRSS DIK
Shahabuddin: Mohmand Agency is the worst affected in terms of destruction of schools where 117 schools are reported to be destroyed. Around 87 schools in Bajaur, 64 in Khyber Agency, 28 in FR Kohat and 12 schools in FR Peshawar have been blown up. Mr. Dawar, being journalist, you report terror related incidents, what steps are taken for rehabilitation of these demolished institutions?
Nasir Dawar: The vicious trend of destroying schools was started first in Bajaur Agency. We recently visited to Bajaur, where 20 schools have been rehabilitated so far while work is continued on rehabilitation of other schools with the help of some donors. As per my information, about 95 schools have destroyed in Bajaur, out of them only 20 are repaired. Real life is far to be returned in Mehsud populated area of Waziristan, how rehabilitation of schools is possible there? Same case is with other areas where due to unavailability of funds, schools cannot be repaired.
Shahabuddin: Will every time the government relies on donor agencies?
Nasir Dawar: Pakistan in general and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA in particular completely rely on foreign aid and assistance, because our high ups and officials in all public departments and institutions are involved in corruption. Government has resources and funds, but these are not being appropriately utilized rather some of corrupt political leaders and bureaucrats waste them in corruption. Political agent is not made accountable for utilization of resources. Authorities do lack sincerity and interest to carry development projects in tribal regions. It is strange that some teachers and other staff of these damaged schools are taking salaries, but they are not willing to restart their duties in rehabilitated schools.
Shehan Shah: the official data indicates that a total of 480 schools have demolished in Fata and under the alliance of Army, 77 schools have been rehabilitated and repaired while repair and restoration of 130 other damaged institutions are in our pipeline. By next year, the rehabilitation of 200 demolished schools will be completed. Initially we had planned to build small rooms in collaboration with NGO in these damaged institutions on urgent basis to safe the time of children, but the concerned organization didnât agree with us. Unless communities will support us, these institutions cannot be rebuilt or repaired since protection of schools is also a major issue. We are forming committees (Taleemi Islahi Jirga) at school level comprising of local elders and teachers to monitor and evaluate the process. In Gilgit Baldistan, the local persons themselves took responsibility of protecting their educational institutions. Clans should give us the same surety.
Nasir Dawar: I would like to ask a question that it is said that some religious persons turned teachers have retired and they are taking pension though they would not even come to schools?
Shahan Shah: as a Muslim, I expect that teachers will try to earn lawful living for their children. The absence of teachers in schools is more a crucial problem and thus need to be tackled effectively. The monitoring department of FATA Secretariat and Directorate is assigned to look into the matter and ensure the presence of teachers in schools. In case teachers do not perform their duty well, they are transferred or their salaries are cut off under law governing society. For the purpose, electric attendance machines are being installed in schools to ensure teacherâs presence.
âReportâ: The life of 12 years old Shahid suddenly turned bed when he was forced to go for work. He used to go to state-run primary school near his home, but now he is working in market. He shared that he was among top students of the school, but there was something else written in his destiny. He belongs to Akakhel area of Bara Tehsil, Khyber Agency and is among those unfortunate 47000 children from FATA, who couldnât get education due to lawlessness. Shahid is presently working in a hotel of Bata Thal market.
Child labor: âI was competent and would secure first, second or third position in every annual examination. Unfortunately when situation turned nasty, all schools in Bara were shut down. I felt that I canât acquire education and then entered to professional lifeâ.
Reporter: After closure of Bara bazaar, Bata Thall market was opened by establishing about 200 cabin shops providing daily commodities of life.
Child Labor: âMy father is old and canât work. I am elder son and I have a little brother and four sisters. I have to look after them and earn a decent income for them. My daily wage is Rs. 120, which is not enough to afford the daily expenditure of family members. I feel sad, when I see students going to school, because I feel the loss of educationâ.
Reporter: Social worker Mr. Sher Rahman remarked in this regard that people are facing economic crisis due to trouble.
Social worker: âpeople with low income canât do to enroll their children in private owned schools and they are raising illiterate, which is destructive for the society. Government was liable to ensure them alternate source of educationâ.
Asst. Education officer: âwe are making all-out efforts to reopen maximum number of schools in War-ravaged Bara. The process of reopening school is slow, but steady. There is no doubt that precious time of children has been wasted, due to closure of institutions. The well-off have shifted their children to private institutions. We are trying our level best to reopen these closed schools, and currently providing them alternate ways for continuation of their educationâ. Kamran Afridi CRSS Khyber Agency
Arifullah caller 3: The political admission of Mohmand agency gave approval of establishment of a primary school in our village by 2003. The school was later opened having 150 males and female students, but it is regretful that still its building could not be established. I have brought the issue in notice of political administration, but no step is taken in this regard.
Shehan Shah: We have shifted many schools and colleges to other places from conflict hit areas and have started classes. Several colleges and schools of Khyber Agency and Dara Adam Khel were shifted to Peshawar or in some areas tent schools were opened as an alternate. We have produced redeployment scheme by posting teachers to those institutions where instructors are needed. They are serving in other colleges and schools. Around 858 new teaching staff is recruited in Fata for primary, middle and higher schools and government has planning to recruit further 2600 teachers for Fata to solve the issue of shortage of staff once and for all. Absence of peace is major issue in way of education and it will solve many our issues once peace return to the region.